Central part of village life still thriving 100 years on

One hundred years ago this week, Hindringham Village Hall opened its doors for the first time.

It became a central part of life for people in the north Norfolk village, having hosted dances, wedding receptions, group meetings, auctions, pantomimes, funeral wakes, concerts and sporting events and it is still a thriving social centre today.

Villagers have planned a big celebration this weekend to mark the hall's 100th birthday.

Hindringham-based comedian Keith Loads will be performing at the village hall from 7.30pm on Friday and people are also being invited to attend the venue on Sunday, from 2pm to 4.30pm, when two new plaques will be unveiled.

Chairman of the Hindringham Village Hall Management Committee Biddy Anthony said: 'Everybody in Hindringham must have been in this hall at some point and many have attended regularly.

'It is also well used by people from Thursford, where they don't have a hall, and people from other places including Fakenham.

'It's such a lovely hall, and the key to that success is that it is well-looked after and we are always looking to better it and ensure that it continues to be well used.'

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The hall was opened on February 2, 1911 by the Dean of Norwich before a crowd of around 140 people and one of the first events celebrated there was the coronation of George V.

It was then known as The Church Institute. This was a source of relentless debate between members of the church and the local community and there were frequent disagreements over who was responsible for paying for what, who was allowed to organise social events and whether alcohol was allowed at them.

Discussions were opened up in 1967 for handing over the Church Institute by the Charity Commissioners to the village.

After six years of debate it was finally handed over to the community in 1972 and there are currently nine volunteers who make up the Hindringham Village Hall Management Committee which has responsibility for running the hall and raising money to run it.

The hall has overcome dark days, most notably when it was closed for almost a year while repairs were carried out after it was hit by a flash flood on June 25, 2007.

Mrs Anthony said: 'Hindringham Village Hall is well regarded throughout north Norfolk and the envy of many villages. There have been so many good times here and we are proud of it. I believe the 100th birthday of the hall is something really worth celebrating. I just hope there will be another big celebration for its 200th birthday in 100 years' time.'

Tickets for Friday's event are �5 and available by calling 01328 878658. Anybody is welcome to attend Sunday's plaque unveiling.